Haiti Relief-Giving-It takes nothing from you.

I know. I know. Life in these United States is not so united and some of us are barely making a living. More than 3 million people in our own country experienced homelessness last year. And depending on whether you were a Republican or Democrat, the blame was put on the last white President or the current African American President, Obama.

We’re still trying to get the word out to Americans to boycott puppy mills and to save shelter dogs. New Orleans morale may have been recently uplifted by Saints, but the city still needs a few more patron-saints to repair the damage that Katrina had wrought.

And then along comes an earthquake in Haiti. It’s a situation. The kind of situation that we cannot ignore. It would be nice if I could stay focused on “my things” and just keep plugging for the dogs or raise money for breast cancer research and then relax in the evenings and watch The Situation on MTV’s Jersey Shores. But that’s not going to happen. Haiti’s plight is everywhere. The devastation and human interest stories and relief efforts are big news. So that means that the problems and charities that we have been trying to address and raise money for, and even the mindless TV that we like to chillax to, is being invaded or taken over by news of Haiti.

As I was cutting and coloring one of my Gold Coast clients the other day, she mentioned how she was just sick of hearing about Haiti.

“Everything is for Haiti,” she said, as I began weaving pieces of her gray hair to lay on foil packets and then brush with honey color. “I’m just sick about hearing about Haiti. We have our own people we have to take care of. The silly Americans who’ve borrowed more than they could pay back and used their credit cards to live on have bankrupted our country. We have to concentrate on that. Not Haiti. And what about our own homeless children?”

Normally, I could have kept my mouth shut. I would have nodded silently and folded up all the little foil packets and then got her some regular coffee, instead of her requested decaf, and then let her read her People magazine in heart palpating silence for the next thirty minutes while her color developed.

But this particular day I wanted to say something. Maybe a direct rebuttal or at least, throw out a few non-neutral thoughts which is what a good hairdresser should do so as not to piss of your clients too much. I could have chosen to tell her that I was a Silly American and that I still had way too much credit card debt. But I decided to take umbrage to the whole theme of her dislike of the Haiti media circus. Of course I said it with a smile and layered with a veiled directness.

“The whole Haiti thing reminds me of the 80’s,” I said. “I was trying to put together a cut-thon-for AIDS when we in the U.S. were just learning that you couldn’t get it from a kiss and that it wasn’t just a Gay disease. There was sentiment out there that was like, ‘why should I give my money to people who probably did something to get the disease?’
Well, eventually, there was an AIDS Walk and an AIDS ride. And Liz Taylor had worked magic and put a popular giving spin on the situation. And people began to give to the AIDS cause and continue giving to this day. What I’m saying is that I think the ingenuity and the giving spirit took over and Americans eventually came together to give and to help their fellow man.
I’d very much like to think that, like Christmas season, this giving spirit is ignited and then trickled into the rest of the year. Not just for Christmas beneficiaries, such as Homeless shelters but for the World Wildlife Federation and the Red Cross Haiti Relief fund.”

“But we have to take care of our own,” my client said.

Obviously my client and I were speaking from deep seated passions from opposite spectrum’s of political hues of red and blue. If I was a still a Republican, I would have still disagreed with her and said, “Look bitch, Haiti is our own. We are totally going to be buying up that real estate with what they are going to owe us. And then we’re going to build big fucking hotels and golf courses and make the damn villagers work for us so they can afford to live in the shacks that we’re building for them now.”

Or I could have gone with the: what about We are the World – one-world theory. Spiritually speaking, aren’t we all just one people? One person on the other side of the Earth is just as important as the one standing right next to me. Human life = precious. Maybe I could have expanded on that very thought and added an Americany imperialistic twist on the world thing so that she could digest it better. “Look bitch, we use up ¼ of the worlds’ resources and energy, and spew out ¾ of the worlds trash and pollution. It’s like we have been shitting on these people for years and they haven’t asked for much.”

I think I had too many cups of coffee that morning myself and I just wanted to pick a fight and call my client a bitch. But my natural tendency to keep my client comfortable as well as keep her coming back to me won out.

“What I’m saying is,” I said, “maybe Haiti is igniting that giving spirit. Maybe the gift, if any, is that the situation in Haiti has to offer us is to see our true human character emerge. I mean, how cool that even Americans out of work, and poverty-level Americans are giving and average of ten dollars apiece to Haiti. And George Clooney and his friends helped raise more money in a telethon than any other in history.”

My client started to talk, but by now, the other stylists and their clients were listening to me so I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to let my fine caffeine fueled opinion get its due.

“Listen,” I said, “beyoches, [I got it in] when this whole Haiti thing is better, we’re going to be taking long look at ourselves and we are gonna say to ourselves: job well done. We are gonna feel good about the giving and we are gonna start to think, hey, if we can do that, just think of what we can do for our own homeless. Our animal shelters. Pollution!
I don’t think Haiti is taking away from us. No. The devastation in Haiti has awakened our passion to help and to see that we are one people and one world. And we Americans have opened our eyes to our own humanity and we have opened our hearts and we will never again close our eyes and hearts again!”

Okay, so maybe I had three cups of coffee and my memory of the conversation may have sieved through my “blue passion.”
My point was and is, is that giving to Haiti doesn’t take away anything from us Americans. This is an opportunity to be thankful for what we have and to give what we can. And bitches, you can certainly continue to give and love and take care of your fellow people, and animals, long after we help to take care of our neighbors in Haiti.

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Go to MafiaHairdresser.com to find out what I’m doing with my writing and help me keep up with Chicago and The Green Ministry.

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